What is a Transcriptionist? A Great Online Job for Beginners

Thinking of building an online career as an audio transcriber? You are on the right track. In a world where everybody is judged by social status, there’s no better feeling than achieving financial independence. As more and more individuals, companies, and organizations continue to consume all manner of voice recordings, becoming a professional audio transcriptionist presents great possibilities to make money from home.

Of course, everybody would love to build an excellent career that assures work-life balance, and with lots of growth opportunities. Question is, do you have what it takes to make it in a challenging employment market, where job displacements and replacements have become the norm?

As you continue your job search exploits in the new world of remote work, you may want to check out our guide to becoming a transcriptionist to find out if this is the perfect field for you. This post is intended to serve as a basic overview of the field of transcription, highlighting what a transcriber’s role entails, the must-have transcription tools and equipment, types of transcription jobs, transcription training, and salary potential among the rest.

What is a Transcriptionist?

Naturally, a transcriptionist is tasked with converting audio files to document or text formats. The variation in transcription jobs today is obvious. From general transcription to legal, and medical, choosing the most suitable category has become more of a personal decision.

Often, general transcriptionists are well trained to handle any task in the field. However, specific entities such as the aforementioned medical and legal fields require special training to help individuals to familiarize themselves with the industry jargons.

Types of Transcription Jobs

Ever wanted to work as a transcriptionist but couldn’t find the most suitable category? Don’t worry. This post still got you covered. Ideally, modern transcription jobs can be divided into three major categories as outlined below:

  • Industry
  • Media
  • Formatting
  • Technology
  • Certification Requirements

Categorizing Transcription Jobs by Industry

When searching for transcription jobs by industry, you will usually see the following options:

  • General transcription
  • Medical transcription
  • Legal transcription
  • Academic transcription
  • Business transcription
  • Conference transcription
  • Interview transcription
  • Focus group transcription
  • Market research transcription
  • Podcast transcription
  • Sermon transcription

3 Most Popular Types of Transcription Jobs by Industry

Medical Transcription

Medical transcription is exactly what it sounds like, transcribing voice recordings from doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals. A day in the life of a medical transcriptionist can be hectic, transcribing everything from clinical summaries to health records, medical charts, and insurance claims.

Legal Transcription

Like many transcription jobs, legal transcription involves converting voice recordings to text documents. However, these transcripts are made from dictated notes, court proceedings, legal briefs, depositions, interrogations, and other sources of legal information.

General Transcription

General transcription is probably the most common form of transcription today, focusing on a wide range of concepts such as speeches, interviews, conference calls, phone messages, and workshops.

Categorizing Transcription Jobs by Media

The following are the most common types of transcription jobs classified by media:

Categorizing Transcription Jobs by Formatting

Transcription jobs can also be classified by formatting. Again, you will have the following options:  

  • Verbatim transcription
  • Edited transcription
  • Intelligent transcription
  • Phonetic transcription

Verbatim Transcription

Strict verbatim or true verbatim as it is sometimes called is one of the most comprehensive forms of transcription. It is intended to capture every minor detail of the recording, from non-verbal cues to pauses, and filler words used by the speaker. When more than one speaker is involved, verbatim transcripts may feature overlapping conversations, interruptions, and affirmations.

Intelligent Transcription

It’s called intelligent transcription for a reason. Unlike many forms of transcription, intelligent transcription aims to deliver excellent transcripts in the clearest form. The audio transcribers can edit and remove different parts of the speech to give a concise test in its simplest, natural format.

Edited Transcription

Edited transcription is always likened to verbatim transcription for a reason. Here, the transcriber is more committed to maintaining the meaning of the text document. Edited transcriptionists believe that a properly transcribed audio file doesn’t have to change the original meaning of the text. But unlike in many forms of transcription, filler words are always ignored. In a nutshell, edited transcription aims to establish the right balance between readability and completeness.

Phonetic Transcription

Phonetic transcription is a unique entity that emphasizes word pronunciation. This type of transcription focuses on a variety of issues such as intonation and overlapping sounds within the voice recording.

Categorizing Transcription Jobs by Technology

There’s no doubt speech recognition technologies have revolutionized the job search market. Still, it doesn’t eliminate the need to bring competent human transcriptionists on board. As already mentioned, transcription jobs can also be divided by technology. And here, you will find two broad categories including the automated and manual types whose details are covered below.

Automated Transcription

As its name suggests, automated transcription involves the use of speech recognition technology to convert an audio or video file into its written or text format. As you may be aware, artificial intelligence is fully involved in this process. Some people argue that this form of transcription never recognizes language context, which is up for debate.

Manual Transcription

Manual transcription is exactly what you may guess, the process of delegating transcription duties to professional audio transcribers. Tons of industries ranging from medical to legal, business, and academic require first-rate services with high success rates and this is where a specialist’s advice comes in handy. Usually, manual transcription is used as the last step in polishing content before it is presented to an audience.

Categorizing Transcription Jobs by Certification Requirements

As you may already know, transcription jobs can be done full-time or on a part-time basis. The easiest path to becoming a professional transcriber is to enroll in the right certification courses. The time limit could be pretty short, involving just a few weeks of intense training or as long as 12 months for medical transcriptionists.

As competition for the available opportunities becomes even stiffer, it’s pretty obvious that getting certified is a surefire way to increase your earning potential regardless of your area of specialization. Based on the certification requirements, you can either become a certified or non-certified audio and video transcriber.

How Much Does a Transcriptionist Make?

A recent data report on the PayScale website states that the average salary for a professional transcriber is around $15.03 per hour. This figure can easily rise to about $25-$35 per hour with advanced training. As it turns out, working as a transcriptionist also comes with one of the biggest benefits in terms of flexible working schedules and new career opportunities.

On a typical day, you can choose to work for as much or as little as you want, depending on your schedule. Given the nature of their roles, medical transcriptionists can make up to $17.50 per hour. Legal transcriptionists, on the other hand, can earn anything between $20,000 to $60,000 annually. What a way to jumpstart your freelancing career!

What Determines a Transcriber’s Salary?

Now, this is a tough one to answer, for many reasons. Turns out tons of variables will play a key role in determining your ultimate paycheck. A few important considerations include the following:

  • Your skill level
  • The company or organization you are working for
  • Nature and complexity of the transcription jobs
  • Experience
  • Qualifications
  • The volume of work completed

As a beginner, it is highly recommended to focus on low-paying jobs that will help enhance your skills as you steadily climb the corporate ladder. What’s more, you will be paid per hour when handling most of the transcription jobs.

How to Become a Transcriptionist?

When you are just getting started, don’t feel frustrated if you fail to land your first gig right away. It takes time, and rightly so. The harsh reality about freelancing jobs is the fact they will never act as quick fixes to your financial woes. And transcription is no exception. It takes patience, commitment, and hard work to stand out from the crowd.

Now, the first step to landing your first gig is to get the right skills. You may want to check out online courses from reliable websites to get your career off to a good start. Also, you will need the right transcription software, a reliable internet connection, a headset, and a foot pedal in some cases.

Of course, a college degree is not a compulsory requirement for general transcriptionists, even though you should take some form of training in advance. Legal and medical transcription, on the other hand, require specialized training because you will be dealing with lots of technical terms.

Even though excellent grammar, proper spelling, and fast typing speed are some of the most desirable qualities a professional transcriber can have, they may not be enough to help you land your first job. Hiring managers are always on the lookout for self-motivated individuals who can get things done with the utmost precision. That’s why we always advise all aspiring transcribers to invest in training courses.  

The right training course should be all-inclusive, covering everything there’s to know about transcription right from equipment and software to typing, punctuation, dictations, and marketing.

Companies That Offer Transcription Jobs

Generally, transcription jobs are available through many platforms, and one of the outstanding options is online companies. For newbies, the list of reliable companies offering transcription jobs is somewhat inexhaustible. Listed below are some of our best selections just in case you are not familiar with the field:

Niche remote work companies that specialize in transcription services

Freelance marketplaces that also offer transcription services

General remote companies that also offer transcription services

Must-Have Transcription Tools

If you are genuinely considering a transcription career, you should better know the significance of quality transcription tools and software in delivering excellent results. For starters, this can be a bit confusing. But as you continue to expand your job profile, you will realize that investing in high-quality transcription software is akin to investing in your future. Some of the most essential tools that you will need to build an industrious career are listed below:

  • PC (Laptop or Desktop)
  • Microsoft Word
  • Headset
  • Transcription software
  • Foot Pedal
  • Ergonomic chair
  • Reliable internet connection

Popular Transcription Software

One of the best things about launching a career as a transcriptionist is the fact you don’t need expensive software to get started. There is a great deal of low-cost software that can help you deliver exceptional results regardless of your career level.

Express Scribe, for example, is a tried and tested audio player software with valuable features to complement your skills. Other popular options include the following:

Where to Find Transcription Training

To become a professional transcriptionist, candidates should enroll in an online training course that’s geared towards building a successful career. Today, most of the courses are readily available online and are intended to equip newbies with vital skills that will help them get started on the right foot.

As you work your way to the top, you will want to check out advanced training options to get acquainted with all the dos and don’ts of a transcription career. But as a beginner, you should focus on building excellent typing skills, English language proficiency, and effective computer and listening skills. Before you get a chance to work with any of the top-ranked transcription companies, be sure to excel in the online tests that are designed to evaluate your progress along the same path.

Reputable organizations such as the Transcription Certification Institute will be willing to assess your skills and offer accreditation based on your credentials. However, if you are on a lower budget, these transcription courses from the instructors at Udemy may be a short-term alternative.

Of course, every company strives to secure top talent in the industry. And there’s no better way to improve your job profile than getting the right qualifications.

Final Thoughts

You know the feeling that comes with doing what you truly love. Right? The feeling that you will always enjoy an amazing work-life balance in the comfort of your home.

This is the unique sensation that comes with a huge variety of freelancing jobs these days. But to earn a living through transcription, you must guarantee your clients consistent quality, delivering top-notch audio transcripts all the time.

Looking to launch a freelancing career? Here’s hoping this guide has cleared all your doubts and will help demystify all the myths you might have heard about transcription. It’s time to build a career, then!